Earth Science Department receives NSF grant

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Northeastern Illinois University’s Department of Earth Science is the newest recipient of an $86,589 grant from the National Science Foundation. The award, which starts May 1, will fund global warming-related research into how dominant western United States tree species have responded in the past to growing season warming of the magnitude projected to occur by 2100.

Assistant Professor Nadja Insel will direct the project, called “Collaborative Research: Rocky Mountain Ecohydrology During the Eemian Interglacial,” in collaboration with the University of Illinois-Chicago and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS).

The project will assess controls on Rocky Mountain forest health during the Eemian-interglacial, the most recent period in Earth’s history when growing season temperatures exceeded those of today.

Eemian-age wood samples recently recovered from Snowmass, Colo., and made available through the DMNS will be used to explore how forests in the Western U.S. have responded in the past to higher summer temperatures. Northeastern faculty and Earth Science undergraduate students will use high-resolution isotope-enabled model simulation to investigate what climate factors are responsible for tree mortality in different parts of the western U.S. and to better understand the influence of moisture variability on tree health.